INDONESIA: The police must immediately stop the investigation and prosecution of three human rights defenders

An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to the Chief of National Police 

General of Police Listyo Sigit Prabowo

Chief of National Police (KAPOLRI)

Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan 12110


Tel: +62 21 384 8537, 726 0306

Fax: +62 21 7220 669


Dear General, 

INDONESIA: The police must immediately stop the investigation and prosecution of three human rights defenders 

On Friday the 3rd of February 2023, Mr. Mulyadi, Mr. Suwarno and Mr. Untung were forcibly arrested by the police officers of the East Java Regional Police by blocking the car that they were travelling in and immediately leading them into a police car.

Illegal arrest 

According to the information that we received, the police officer who arrested them did not show an assignment letter and was unable to show arrest warrants, the reasons for the arrest and a brief description of the alleged crime and where they were going to be taken. The AHRC considers this action to be an act of deprivation of liberty that violates human rights as stipulated in Article 18 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (KUHAP).

Moreover, the AHRC also refers to Law, No. 26 of 2000 on the Human Rights Law under Article 34:

Paragraph 1: Every victim of and witness to a gross violation of human rights has the right to physical and mental protection from threats, harassment, terror, and violence by any party whosoever. 

Paragraph 2: Protection as referred to in Clause (1) is an obligatory duty of the law enforcement and security apparatus, provided free of charge.

Paragraph 3: Provisions on procedures for protecting witnesses shall be further governed in a Government Regulation.

Police Regulation (Perkap) Number 8 of 2009, Article 17 stated: 

Paragraph (1): In conducting an arrest, an officer must: a. inform/present his/her identity as an Indonesia National Police officer; b. present a warrant for arrest, except where the suspect was caught during the commission of a crime; c. inform the reason for the arrest; d. explain the charges and the possible punishment to the suspect upon arrest; e. respect the legal status of a minor perpetrating a crime and inform the parent or guardian immediately following the arrest; f. protect the privacy of the suspect in custody; and g. inform the suspect of his/her rights and how to exercise such rights, consisting of the right to remain silent, the right to receive legal support and/or to be accompanied by a legal counsel, and other rights as provided under the Penal Procedural Code. 

Paragraph (2): Following an arrest, an officer must prepare a report of the arrest which states: a. the name and identity of the officer making the arrest; b. the name and identity of the person under arrest; c. the location, date and time of the arrest; d. the reason for the arrest and/or the charges; e. the place of temporary detention during custody; and f. The health condition of the person under arrest.

Invalid suspect status

In addition, before being forcibly arrested, Mr. Mulyadi, Mr. Suwarno and Mr, Untung had already been named suspects by the East Java Regional Police for alleged fake news as stated under the Law, Number 1 of 1946 on the Handling of Hoax News. 

The three of them knew that they had been named suspects on January 20th, 2023 based on a summons as suspects. According to the information that we have received, prior to the determination of them as suspects, the three of them had never provided prior information as potential suspects or witnesses, and though the three of them had been summoned, the summons they had received was inappropriate because they had received the new summons after the examination schedule in the overdue letter. In addition, they never clearly knew about the accusations and evidence in the case against the three, and because of that, the Coalition considered that the determination of the trio as suspects by the East Java Regional Police violated Article 1 Point 14 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and also the Constitutional Court Decision No. 21/PUU/XII/2014 and is therefore invalid.

​​​​​​​Mulyadi, Suwarno and Untung are human rights defenders

The judgment of the three is clearly a practice of prosecuting human rights defenders, due to the fact that the accusations against them do not stand alone but because of their activities to defend and fight for their rights of agrarian resources which are in conflict with the Bumi Sari Company (PT. Bumi Sari) since a long time ago. This pattern of prosecution is common and affects human rights defenders, and for this reason, the Government should take steps to protect it as stated in Article 28C Paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution and Article 100 of the Law on Human Rights, and Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. 

Pretrial is in progress 

Before being forcibly arrested by the East Java Regional Police, on January 30th 2023, the three were submitted to a pretrial at the Banyuwangi District Court in relation to their determination as suspects which was allegedly carried out haphazardly and arbitrarily by the East Java Regional Police, at a time when the investigation against the three should have been suspended temporarily until the pretrial to be decided by the Judge who receives, examines and adjudicates the case.

Based upon the abovementioned facts, the AHRC urges:

1. The Indonesian National Chief of Police must immediately order the East Java Regional Police Chief to stop the investigation (SP3) and release the three of them unconditionally;

2. The Indonesian National Chief of Police, due to the violation committed by the police officers of the East Java Regional Police, must restore the rights of the three in terms of their ability, position, dignity and worth;

3. The Indonesian National Chief of Police must order the Profession and Security Division (Propam) of the National Police to examine all members of the East Java Regional Police who were involved in the arrest and must hold their superiors accountable;

4. The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) must provide protection to the three in accordance with Komnas HAM RI Regulation No. 5 of 2015;

5. To prevent the repetition of the prosecution against human rights defenders, the President and the House of Representatives must immediately prepare a draft on the Law Anti-SLAPP with meaningful and wide public participation as stated under the Law, No. 32 of 2009 on the Protection and Management of the Environment.

Thus, we submit this letter. Thank you for the attention.

Yours sincerely,

Prakash Mohara
Executive Director, Asian Human Rights Commission,
Hong Kong